Friday, December 31, 2021

Christmas 2021

First up, the annual Christmas morning photo on the stairs at 7 am (yes we had to wake the big guys!)

And then new for 2021...Covid tests for all!

All negative - a Christmas miracle :)

Then it was time to move to the living room...

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Christmas Eve at Home

On a snowy Christmas Eve, after driving home from our overnight excursion to the Cape, we unpacked and walked the dog, got dressed for Mass, put the lasagnas and meatballs in the oven and attended the 4pm Mass to kick off Christmas as early as possible!

The four oldest boys served (can't believe Declan will start serving this summer as well!) as the rest of us sat (masked) in the pew.  We haven't been masking when it's not required, but since my dad is immuno-compromised and we knew we would be seeing him the next day, we took any precautions we could.  We went home and took the perfectly cooked dinner out of the oven, threw together a burrata and arugula salad and heated up the garlic bread for a yummy Italian Christmas Eve feast.

*I'm surprised at the lack of photos I have of this day.  It's my favorite day of the whole year and I think I was just enjoying the moments and forgetting to document them!*

We invited over some of our priest friends to come between their vigil Masses and Midnight Masses, and four out of six were able to come.  It was awesome.  I think many priests get forgotten on Christmas Eve while they are so busy with Masses and don't necessarily have time to go home to their families until the next day.  So if you think of it next year, invite a priest or two over.  Your kids will love seeing them "off duty" and it makes priests very approachable and they love hanging with families too.  I have such fond memories of having Fr. Bill over to our home while I was growing up, he was like an uncle to us, and I hope my kids have the same experience.

Did you see that cake?

Brendan sure did!

I won a gift card on the radio to a restaurant in Providence that specializes in desserts, and decided to use it on Phil's favorite cake - Death by Chocolate.  I much prefer their lemon cake, but I think everybody else was happy with the chocolate choice.

We had fun coloring, eating, laughing and singing Happy Birthday to Jesus. Maggie folded our napkins into those Christmas trees on the table - so cute!  By the time everyone left and we set up the gifts, it was after midnight but so worth it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Christmas Adam on Cape Cod

Hey Brendan, do you know some people don't know what Christmas Adam is?

"Really? It's the day before Christmas Eve!!!"


We let the kids do their Sibling Swap on Christmas Adam.  They each pick a name from a hat earlier in the month and spend limited funds on trying to make a sibling happy.  They are all very generous and gracious when they open their gifts (especially whomever is the recipient of the youngest's gifts!) and it's sweet and fun.  My sister-in-law told me that her eight kids do this but they call it "Advent Angels" and they choose names before Advent begins, and they pray for and do kind acts/give gifts to their siblings during the Advent season.  I think I like this approach even better and will have to copy it for next year.  Hey, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, or so I was always told when my little sister copied everything I did :)

Friday, December 17, 2021

The Martin Christmas Letter, with Rhyming Cuz It's Better

The Christmas cards have been sent, so now I can share,
 these photos and updates on our family this year.
I'm not the best poet, but it does make me happy,
To "rap" up 2021 without getting sappy.

Phil continues to teach high school theology,
Catholic Social Teaching, Bioethics and Morality. 
He volunteers as well, spreading God's love like seeds,
Fulfilling St. Francis' message to preach by our deeds.

Colleen had a rough year, she must admit,
That started with shingles which took her down for a bit.
She sent her oldest to college, put her youngest in Kindergarten,
And started a new job as the public school district Accountant.

JP graduated from high school, became an EMT,
Skipped a year of college due to credits from his AP's.
He is living the life at Franciscan University,
Studying, playing and dating, a happy boy is he.

Andrew is a Junior already, and the Treasurer at that,
He devotes his time to Soccer, Basketball and AP Calc.
Andrew has the nicest friends, and teachers he aims to please,
He likes sports cards, his new glasses, and nothing with cheese.

Eamon is a Freshman still praying to grow,
He gives his all in sports and school and it shows.
He calls us together for the rosary at night - our holy nagger,
We only hear him complain when he has to go to work as a bagger.

Maggie is practically a woman, yet only in Grade Eight,
She loves basketball, volleyball, soccer and to bake.
If I had the ability to clone her, I certainly would,
And her dad would send her to the convent if he could.

Xander, a 5th grader, continues to practice,
Both his comedy routine and piano playing prowess.
He's been running with Dad to help get in shape,
And listening to the Lord of the Rings when he needs a break.

Declan received his First Reconciliation, now that he's seven,
And said "my shoulders feel lighter" after his sins were forgiven.
He loves soccer, basketball, track, really anything outside,
But still cries when he hears someone sniff, though we try to hide.

Brendan is our big guy now, a Kindergartner for real!
He loves deep and plays hard and never misses a meal.
His hugs are the best, and we all hope,
That he will listen to us when we say "Stop growing up".

Well 2021, you certainly had your ups and downs,
More good than bad, more smiles than frowns.
We count our blessings each day, and they include YOU,
And we look forward with joy to 2022.

Merry Christmas and SEAS and GREETINGS!

The Martin Family
Phil, Colleen, JP (18), Andrew (17), Eamon (15), Maggie (14), Xander (10), Declan (7) and Brendan (5)

Thursday, December 16, 2021

That's What He Said

 It's so fun being a parent!!!  Here's proof...

Unrelated photo of some family fun.

Declan (age 7): Mom, when can we go to Pope Yes again?

Me: What's that?

Declan: You know, Pope Yes, where they have chicken sandwiches.

Me: You mean Popeyes?

Declan: Oh that's how you spell Popeyes?


Brendan (age 5): Mom! Xander is being so hypocritical!

Me: (Trying not to laugh that my Kindergartner uses the word hypocritical) What's he doing?

Brendan: He is just so sarcastic and then he told me that I'm sarcastic, and that's being hypocritical!


Xander (10): Mom, babies come out of their mother's belly buttons, right?

Me: Nope

Xander: Then how do they get out?

Me: Welllll, moms have a special hole where babies come out. 

*tries to find an actual hole to crawl into and get out of this conversation*

Maggie (14): Wait, how many holes do I have??




Me: Maggie, we need to talk.


JP (age 18): I'm worried about my first semester grades.

Dad: It's an adjustment period, grad schools will understand, and you will bring them up next semester.

JP: My Advisor said I need to get all As to get into a PA school.  


I guess I might just have to go to medical school and become a doctor instead.


Xander (10): Today I saw my old teacher and she walked the other way to avoid me.

Me: I'm sure she just didn't see you.

Xander: Oh, she definitely saw me.  I'm the reason she quit!

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Sharing Some News and A Story About Grandpa

I haven't talked about this yet, because it's hard and it's not my story to share, but with permission here it goes...

My wonderful dad, 81 years young, was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis earlier this fall.  You can read more about the disease here.  Sadly, his brother, Tom, and my mom's brother, Jack, both died of this same disease a few years ago and although my dad doesn't have a specific prognosis yet, he has started needing oxygen and gets out of breath quickly just doing normal activities.  The doctors have put him on an immunosuppressant because his symptoms seems to be progressing quickly and they are hoping that maybe this can slow the progress.  Because of the immunosuppressant, neither he nor my mom are able to leave the house, for fear of catching any viruses, and visitors need to be masked and stay socially distanced.  Luckily, we live above my parents condo and can help them with errands and visit with them often.  My siblings all do likewise and it certainly shows the blessings of having a large family in times like these.  I'm sharing this to ask for prayers for my dad and also because I recalled an essay that JP had submitted last year for a college scholarship.  The essay was to be written about an Irish American Who Made a Difference and to be honest, we wrote it together because he didn't know the full story (I would have felt slightly guilty if he had won the scholarship but he didn't) so without further ado...the story of our favorite Irish American...

What My Irish-American Grandpa Has Taught Me

By: John-Paul Martin

My grandfather, John Sweeney, immigrated to America from Letterkenny, Donegal in 1960.  As he likes to tell the story, he had $50 in his pocket, hopes of a better future in his mind, and the love of a girl in his heart.  

John was born the twelfth child to Andrew and Jeannie Sweeney on July 9, 1940.  Andrew was a gardener and Jeannie stayed home to take care of all the children.  Money was always tight, food was simple, and personal space was scarce.  John grew up sharing a bed with three of his brothers and attended trade school in order to start working young.  When John was 17 he left Ireland and moved to Scotland hoping to apprentice with a ship building company but was unsuccessful.  Instead, he worked as a conductor on a double decker bus before moving back home where he was able to find work as a welder in a foundry.

One evening, John attended a dance and saw the most beautiful girl in the world, Maggie Kane.  Maggie’s parents had lived in Donegal, moved to America where she was born, and then back to Ireland.  Maggie had stayed in America to live with an Aunt and finish her schooling as a nurse.  She was back in Ireland to visit with her family for the summer.  John couldn’t take his eyes off of her and asked her to dance multiple times before she finally agreed.  He fell in love with Maggie but learned she was already spoken for, having an American fiancĂ© back in Massachusetts.  Maggie returned home to her life, and John quickly decided he was going to move to America to start building homes with his brother Tom, who had already immigrated a few years earlier.

John and Tom Sweeney

Monday, December 13, 2021

Counting Down and Counting My Blessings

 Happy St. Lucy's Feast Day!  

Five years ago today, Phil met our puppy for the first time.  She was a 4 month old Goldendoodle named Lady and we had been searching for almost a year to find her.  We were not allowed to rescue a dog because at the time we had a baby, a cat and a backyard not fenced in.  Yes, better to leave a dog in a shelter without a loving home than to give it to a family that *gasps* has to walk the dog on a leash instead of opening their back door.  

Much better than a fenced-in backyard.

I shouldn't be bitter that we were denied a rescue, because we ended up with the bestest purebred doggy in all the land, renamed her Lucy Doodle Martin, and surprised the kids on Christmas Eve.  Lucy's the kind of dog that makes you never want to get another dog because it would only be downhill.


At my new job (how long can one consider a job "new"? Is it as long as losing the baby weight - Nine months on, nine years off?) we have been playing the 10 Days of Christmas, where every workday between last week and this week, there has been a fun activity planned, such as a cookie swap, a wine exchange, a crazy sock day, etc.  We also are each assigned a day to bring in a small gift for our coworkers' every day I get a gift added to my stocking and we will open them at the Christmas Luncheon at the end of this week.  We don't have to participate, because every holiday party has a Scrooge, but why wouldn't I?  So fun!


This weekend, I made Hawaiian Fried Chicken, after catching an episode of Cook's Country.  Instead of flour, you use Potato Starch so it's gluten free and super crispy and delish!  I sang Mele Kalikimaka while cooking, of course.  We doubled the recipe and used 2 lbs. of chicken breasts and 2 lbs. of chicken thighs and the breasts won in my family's taste preferences.  I guess we know what kind of men I am raising.


And finally, JP is home for Christmas break!  We are all under one roof again and it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.  I hope you all are feeling it too.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Seven Christmas Songs I Will Always Love and Two I Will Always Hate

First up, my favorite Christmas songs of all time, in order:


And I will change the station if these songs come on.  
They should be called "Mary Did You...NO!" and "The Christmas BLUES"
Hey, every Christmas needs a Grinch :)

Monday, December 6, 2021

Week (and Weekend) in Review: Scratch Tickets, St. Francis and St. Nick, and Christmasy Things

Phil made me this unique Christmas Countdown Calendar...with a scratch ticket and a biblical quote for each day in December leading up to Christmas!

You know what they say, a scratch ticket a day keeps me merry and gay!  But like, the old-fashioned Christmas-song meaning of gay.

 Friday was the Feast of St. Francis Xavier which happens to be the patron saint of our children's Pre-8 school.  This year they debuted a new mascot named Frankie the Rebel!  

The school's team name has always been The Rebels...and they are using it in a positive Catholic way.  To be a rebel means to become a saint by rebelling against the world's temptations to focus on heaven's wonders.  So yeah, Go Rebels!

Thursday, December 2, 2021

The 14th Birthday of Maggie Rose and the 1st Reconciliation of Declan Kolbe

Maggie in the Middle turned FOURTEEN!  She also had her first basketball game of the season at 8pm that night, hence the outfit choice :)

We started the day with a birthday donut, then she arrived at school to find her best friend's mom had decorated her locker.  Her best friend was home quarantining but her mom is the principal of their school, and I just think it's so sweet that she went in early to decorate Maggie's locker for her.

For her birthday dinner, she chose Thai peanut chicken over coconut rice and mint brownies and peppermint ice cream for dessert.

I specialize in ugly but tasty birthday desserts - ha!

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Turkey Talk and Other Tidbits

I forgot to even talk about Thanksgiving break - whoops!  

On Thanksgiving morning, I took JP and Maggie to a Boot Camp class that we love and the instructor had us do a fun Thanksgiving workout.  There were parts of a turkey (made from construction paper, not from a real turkey, that would be gross) lined up on the floor on one side of the gym.  We were put in groups on the other side of the huge gym and each group had to build a turkey using a body, ten feathers, two feet, two eyes, a nose and a gizzard.  You built the turkey by having one teammate sprint across the gym, pick up a piece, sprint back and then the whole team performed 10 of the exercises written on the paper.  While said teammate was sprinting across the gym, the other teammates were either planking or wall-sitting.  Once you performed the exercise 10 times, a different teammate would sprint and get a new paper while the others planked or wall-sat...and on and on until you built a turkey.

That took about 18 minutes, so then we had to do the same thing to build another turkey except this time we would sprint across the gym, pick a piece of paper, and give it to another team who had to complete the exercise.  That round was a lot more fun and I thoroughly enjoyed handing out burpees and pushups to the opposing teams.  Delivered with an evil cackle of course :)

The littles were thrilled when we brought home turkey bits for them to craft together - a win win.

Phil worked the chains at our Catholic high school's football game that morning, and our team got killed.  BUT!  The opposing Catholic high school literally has ex-Patriots players (hello Teddy Bruschi!) as coaches.  So, to be expected.